Obrazy na stronie
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ARGUMENT.

EDIPUS King of Thebes having by mistake slain his father Laius, and married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resigned his realm to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the Fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtained by Eteocles. Jupiter, in a council of the Gods, declares his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a marriage betwixt Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus king of Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message to the Shades, to the ghost of Laius, who is to appear to Eteocles, and provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices in the mean time departs from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos; where he meets with Tydeus, who had fled from Calydon, having killed his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having received an oracle from Apollo that his daughters should be married to a Boar and a Lion, which he understands to be meant of these strangers, by whom the hides of those beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when he kept an annual feast in honour of that God. The rise of this solemnity he relates to his guests, the loves of Phæbus and Psamathe, and the story of Chorebus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and quality : The sacrifice is renewed, and the book concludes with a Hymn to Apollo.

The Translator hopes he need not apologize for his choice of this piece, which was made almost in his childhood. But finding the version better than he expected, he gave it some correction a few years afterward. P.

He was but fourteen years old.

P. STATII THEBAIDOS.

LIBER PRIMUS.

FRATERNAs acies, alternaque regna profanis Decertata odiis, sontesque evolvere Thebas, Pierius menti calor incidit. Unde jubetis Ire, Deæ ? gentisne canam primordia diræ ? Sidonios raptus, et inexorabile pactum Legis Agenoreæ ? scrutantemque æquora Cadmum ? Longa retro series, trepidum si Martis operti Agricolam infandis condentem prælia sulcis 10 Expediam, penitusque sequar quo carmine muris Jusserit Amphion Tyrios accedere montes : Unde graves iræ cognata in monia Baccho, Quod sævæ Junonis opus : cui sumpserit arcum Infelix Athamas, cur non expaverit ingens Ionium, socio casura Palæmone mater. Atque adeo jam nunc gemitus, et prospera Cadmi Præteriisse sinam : limes mihi carminis esto 20

1

NOTES.

Ver. 19. But wave whate'er] It is plain that Pope was not blind to the faults of Statius; many of which he points out with judgment and truth, in a letter to Mr. Cromwell, written 1708, vol. vii. p. 81.

The first attempt of Mr. Gray in English verse was a translation from Statius, sent to Mr. West 1736.

Juvenal was banished for commending the Agave of Statius. Both the exordium and the conclusion of the Thebais are too THE FIRST BOOK OF

STATIUS'S THEBAIS.

FRATERNAL rage the guilty Thebes alarms, Th' alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms, Demand our song; a sacred Fury fires My ravish'd breast, and all the Muse inspires. O Goddess, say, shall I deduce my rhymes 5 From the dire nation in its early times, Europa's rape, Agenor's stern decree, And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea ? How with the serpent's teeth he sow'd the soil, And reap'd an Iron harvest of his toil ?

10 Or how from joining stones the city sprung, While to his harp divine Amphion sung? Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound, Whose fatal rage th' unhappy Monarch found ? The sire against the son his arrows drew, 15 O'er the wide fields the furious mother flew. And while her arms a second hope contain, Sprung from the rocks and plung'd into the main.

But wave whate'er to Cadmus may belong, And fix, O Muse! the barrier of thy song 20

NOTES. violent and pompous, particularly the latter, in which he promises himself immortality from this poem.

Statius was a favourite writer with the poets of the middle

Edipodæ confusa domus : quando Itala nondum
Signa, nec Arctoos ausim sperare triumphos ;
Bisque jugo Rhenum, bis adactum legibus Istrum,
Et conjurato dejectos vertice Dacos :
Aut defensa prius vix pubescentibus annis
Bella Jovis. Tuque o Latiæ decus addite famæ,
Quem nova maturi subeuntem exorsa parentis
Æternum sibi Roma cupit: licet arctior omnes
Limes agat stellas, et te plaga lucida cæli
Pleïadum, Boreæque, et hiulci fulminis expers 35
Sollicitet ; licet ignipedum frænator equorum
Ipse tụis alte radiantem crinibus arcum
Imprimat, aut magni cedat tibi Juppiter æqua
Parte poli; maneas hominum contentus habenis,
Undarum terræque potens, et sidera dones.

Tempus erit, cum Pierio tua fortior estro
Facta canam : nunc tendo chelyn, satis arma referre
At Edipus--from his disasters trace
The long confusions of his guilty race:
Nor yet attempt to stretch thy bolder wing,
And mighty Cæsar's conqu’ring eagles sing ;
How twice he tam'd proud Ister's rapid flood, 25
While Dacian mountains stream'd with barb'rous

NOTES.

ages. His bloated magnificence of description, gigantic images, and pompous diction, suited their taste, and were somewhat of a piece with the romances they so much admired. They neglected the gentler and genuine graces of Virgil, which they could not relish. His pictures were too correctly and chastely drawn to take their fancies; and truth of design, elegance of expressicn, and the arts of composition, were not their object.

blood :
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
And stretch'd his empire to the frozen Pole,
Or long before, with early valour strove,
In youthful arms t' assert the cause of Jove. 30
And thou, great Heir of all thy Father's fame,
Increase of glory to the Latian name,
Oh! bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let desiring worlds entreat in vain.

34 What tho' the stars contract their heav'nly space, And crowd their shining ranks to yield thee place; Tho' all the skies, ambitious of thy sway, Conspire to court thee from our world away; Tho' Phæbus longs to mix his rays with thine, And in thy glories more serenely shine ;

40 Tho' Jove himself no less content would be To part his throne and share his heav'n with thee; Yet stay, great Cæsar! and vouchsafe to reign O'er the wide earth, and o'er the wat’ry main : Resign to Jove his empire of the skies,

45 And people heav'n with Roman deities.

The time will come, when a diviner flame Shall warm my breast to sing of Cæsar's fame:

NOTES.

Ver. 47. The time] Justus Lipsius had a bad taste. The Thebaid of Statius, he says, “ Eximie pulcra est, et quoties lego,

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